US Navy says Iran seized commercial ship in Gulf


The US Navy says it monitored the situation in international waters involving vessel possibly engaged in smuggling activity and decided not to intervene.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have “forcibly seized” a commercial ship in international waters in the Gulf that was possibly involved in smuggling, according to United States Navy.

The Bahrain-based US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said in a statement on Thursday that it monitored the incident but assessed the circumstances “did not warrant further response”.

“US forces remain vigilant and ready to protect navigational rights of lawful maritime traffic in the Middle East’s critical waters,” US 5th Fleet spokesperson Commander Tim Hawkins said.

Iran has not commented on the incident.

British maritime security company Ambrey said it was aware of an attempted seizure by Iranian forces of a small Tanzanian-flagged tanker, about 59 nautical miles (about 110km) northeast of the Saudi Arabian port city of Dammam.

“Iran regularly intercepts smaller tankers it suspects of smuggling oil,” the company added in a note.

About a fifth of the world’s supply of seaborne crude oil and oil products passes through the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint between Iran and Oman, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa.

In recent years, the US and Iran have traded accusations over a series of incidents in the tense Gulf waterways.

On Wednesday, the US Navy said it had intervened to prevent Iran from seizing two commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran said on Thursday it had a court order to seize one of the tankers sailing in Gulf waters the previous day after it collided with an Iranian vessel.

Tehran seized two other tankers in May including the Marshall Islands-flagged Advantage Sweet, which had been chartered by US oil major Chevron.